A Guide to Making a Healthy Weekly Meal Plan
The information provided on this page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health care professional.
In order to build a successful diet, dieters should learn to create and follow weekly meal plans. Creating a weekly meal plan is not only intended for dieters, but is also good for anyone who is on a budget and trying to cut back on how much is spent each week on food. For budgeters, creating a weekly meal plan is much more straightforward. For dieters, creating a weekly meal plan requires a little bit of research.
Basic Steps to Planning a Weekly Meal Plan
Before actually creating a meal plan, dieters need to first identify their food needs. The primary thing to consider is the number of meals for which they are planning. The complexity of planning the number of meals naturally varies, depending on the size of the household. For households with more than a single person, it is important to be realistic about the number of meals. For example, children typically eat a little more often than adults, because they are still growing. Everyone needs to be on the same page in order for a weekly meal plan to work. Trying to adhere to one person’s preferences is just setting the meal plan up for failure.
One of the reasons that it is better to make a weekly meal plan instead of a monthly one is because it creates flexibility. Few dieters have a schedule that is rigid enough to allow for a month’s worth of planning. Dieters who know they are going to be busy during the week need to take this into account. If they set up meals that are difficult to make or have long preparation times, it is much harder to stick to the schedule. For dieters who are especially busy, one simple solution is to cook large meals in advance, and then spread them out over the course of the week.
Ideally, a meal plan always involves home-cooked meals, since these are typically much healthier than restaurant food. Dieters who know in advance that there are days they cannot reasonably have home cooked meals should factor this into the weekly meal plan. Another common mistake is planning meals that require special ingredients or skills. Dieters need to take into account what ingredients they actively have on hand in their homes, as well as what they know how to cook.
Nutritional Planning for Weekly Meal Plans
In addition to planning out the basic logistics behind a weekly meal plan, dieters need to take into account their nutritional needs. There are two primary things to take into consideration when focusing on the nutritional side of a weekly meal plan. The first is target food groups. Part of maintaining a healthy diet is getting the right number of vitamins and minerals. Dieters typically focus on fruits and vegetables, since these are seen as healthy foods. However, this is not a balanced diet, because it lacks protein-rich foods, such as chicken or fish.
The other key part of planning nutritional meals is the number of calories. Counting calories is a key part of any diet, and it is much easier to accomplish with a weekly meal plan. How many calories a dieter should aim for ultimately varies based on his or her body type, as well as the overall goals of the diet. Typically, a diet has anywhere between 1,200 and 1,600 calories.
Dieters should not be afraid to make changes to their weekly meal plans if they feel they are not getting enough food each week. It is not uncommon for dieters to make small revisions during the first few weeks to find a comfortable number of calories. As previously mentioned, dieters who are too ambitious with their plans are much likelier to break their weekly meal plans.
Creating a Weekly Meal Plan
Once dieters decide how many meals they will eat, as well as their nutritional goals, the next step is to create the actual food plan. Dieters can organize their plans however they wish, but they are encouraged to be as detailed as possible. For example, many dieters like to include the exact number of calories of each meal. It is also common to include the ingredients that go into a meal or how long it takes to prepare the meal, too.
The more details that are in the weekly meal plan, the easier it is for the dieter to adjust to unforeseen changes. If the dieter makes unexpected plans in the week, it is easier for him or her to adjust the meal plan for that day if he or she can see the number of calories allotted. Dieters can also take into account what ingredients are now on hand from changing the meal, which is helpful for planning possible replacements or when creating future schedules.